We’ve been quietly promoting Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) for many years but on June 7th, 2016, it burst into UK public view. And it wasn’t pretty. Noel Edmonds (formerly BBC Radio DJ, and presenter of the TV show ‘Deal or No Deal’) sent a post on Twitter promoting the same system that we sell (the iMRS from Swiss Bionic Solutions, which he called an empPad): “A simple box that slows ageing, reduces pain, lifts depression and stress and tackles cancer”. It’s that word “cancer”. In our world, that’s like squirting lighter fuel on a bonfire.
Is it your negative attitude?
Then it got worse. Edmonds was accused of quackery by a cancer sufferer, Vaun Earl Norman. In his blog, My Adventures in Cancerland, you’ll learn that this single parent has been through several rounds of harrowing surgery and other treatments. Noel Edmonds responded “Scientific fact-disease is caused by negative energy. Is it possible your ill health is caused by your negative attitude?” That’s like jumping into the bonfire.
Within a couple of hours, Twitter and the Google index were full of outraged responses. The BBC, the Daily Mail, the Express, The Independent, ITV, The Guardian, Huffington Post, the Telegraph. Then Cancer Research UK, MacMillan Cancer Support, Kidney Cancer UK and every local tabloid with some space to fill. The following morning, Edmonds appeared on ITV’s the Morning Show and had a confrontational interview with Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield where he tried to defend his position.
What he actually did
Edmonds revealed that he had himself been diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years ago and that his most recent tests showed him to be free of it. He attributed this to changes in diet and exercise, PEMF and the use of high-intensity ultrasound to break up the tumor. Cue a second day of media outrage (anger that he was defending himself instead of apologising for his Twitter comments). Of course, this ignored a rather large elephant in the room: the treatment regime Edmonds followed apparently did have a major impact on his cancer.
Furthermore, he used a medical treatment applied by a leading oncologist — Professor Mark Emberton of University College Hospital, London, a member of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence Partners Council. Par for the course was that the Daily Mail’s first online version of their interview with Edmonds said his recent PSA (prostate specific antigen, a cancer marker) test had risen from 4 to 9. A later version of the same story (published without any apparent correction) said it had fallen further from 4 to 0.9, presumably indicating remission!
Swiss manufacturing in the West Country
Edmonds bought his Swiss Bionic system through a small distributor like us, a company in Bristol called EMPpad. . Since then Edmonds has frequently mentioned the system on social media and in the press. As the press feeding frenzy gathered pace, most of the media frantically copied each other in calling the iMRS an EMPpad, describing EMPpad as the manufacturer, and the directors of EMPpad as its inventors. Actually, Swiss Bionic Solutions are the manufacturer, with offices in Switzerland, Germany, the USA, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong. While EMPpad are two West Country osteopaths.
EMPpad quickly issued their own press statement strenuously denying any knowledge of or involvement in the Noel Edmonds statements and adding “Although research using very low frequency and intensity PEMF to help address cancer has produced some promising early results, it is currently in the very early stages and EMPpad does not make the claim that PEMF therapy can prevent cancer.” Swiss Bionic told the Guardian that it makes no medical claims at all for the device, let alone that it can help treat cancer.
This whole episode should come as no surprise given the symbiotic relationship between celebrities, PR people and the media. Noel Edmonds has often made controversial public statements. His subject and handling of this one was sure to spark outrage. Outrage sells newspapers and that generates publicity.
2019 Updates: EMPpad disappears and The Guardian repeats the errors
The Guardian newspaper has repeated these errors (about the iMRS and who manufactures it) in a June 1, 2019 interview with Edmonds: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/jun/01/noel-edmonds-bank-mr-blobby-barmy-reputation
In addition, EMPpad appears to have stopped trading (although some other companies still use the name as a way of re-branding the iMRS). Companies House reports that EMPpad Limited was dissolved on June 18, 2019.
It’s a lot of things but it’s not a cure for cancer
So what’s our advice? Is PEMF a cure for cancer? Well, we’ll go a bit further than what Swiss Bionic or EMPpad said. In our experience, it’s not just a matter of whether it’s too early to say, or whether there’s enough research evidence. In our experience, with the systems we sell, PEMF DOES NOT CURE CANCER. It should help the person’s energy, sleep and stress levels. It may contribute to re-building their general health, and deal with the after effects of surgery, especially after they’ve hopefully been given the all-clear. And it does have sound research behind it (unless we start dismissing NASA scientists as a bunch of quacks).
These basic health and well being benefits are what we should be talking about with PEMF. All of this got lost in the wave of outrage generated by asking a cancer patient whether he should improve his attitude. But let’s be clear, PEMF is currently not a cure, and no one should rely on it as their primary treatment for cancer.